India-US energy ties: ‘Civil nuclear partnership a piece of unfinished business’

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Bullish on the potential energy and energy securities relationship with India Geoffrey R. Pyatt, Assistant Secretary for Energy Resources, US, acknowledged that the status of civil nuclear partnership between the two nations is “an important piece of unfinished business.”

Pyatt, who was having a quick virtual conversation with set of journalists on the issues of energy and energy security, when asked on the fate of the civil nuclear partnership, said that “a lot of conversation we have at the US-India forums on the issues…in fact, corporates have shown interest in small modular reactors”.

From India, Adani to Tata to Reliance among others all of have shown interest. “But companies need to figure out how to scale the SMR deployments.” Also, for India there is a need for revision of law for private participation.

Trade ties

In fact, according to Pyatt, India-US trade relationship is going to be puffed up like a ‘poorie’ and not be flat given the way the governments are involved. There could be a possible pause as India goes for elections – as far as political decisions are concerned but bureaucratic channels are open. 

Pyatt, who was recently in India, also shared his thoughts on the various discussions he had with stakeholders of the energy sector. He said that both countries are aligned to the exposure to Chinese technology in the green energy space. He said, for smooth energy transition, supply chain management will be key.

The Biden administration of the US is focussed on energy partnership with India. A fine example of this is critical minerals being added in the discussions on clean technology. “The two countries are looking for better collaboration in technology…A lot of innovation yet to come,” he added.

On fossil fuel

Talking about fossil fuel, to a question from businessline on whether the US will consider an FTA with India to facilitate smooth supply of LNG, he said, “Not currently involved in any FTA, but there is a further deepening of relations.”

India buys both oil and LNG from the US. Recently, the US has decided to freeze permits for export of LNG to countries which doesn’t have an FTA. Further clarifying he said, there is a pause on new permits and there will be no impact on exiting supplies. “There is no reason for concern,” he said.

While not commenting on what kind of oil price will the US be comfortable at, he said, in India he had had detailed conversations with the il Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, across the issues and implications on the market. Issues included situations arising because of Ukraine, Red Sea, Venezuela as all as Iran.

Russian oil

Stating that the price cap on Russian oil has worked, he said “India has played key role in stabilising the energy market.” However, Indian Minister was clear that Inda will go for the “Lowest possible price of crude oil to meet its demand.”

Talking about US-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP) he said, he is very bullish. Also, he had a detailed meeting at India’s Mines Minister to discuss how India can be part of Minerals Security Partnership. The partnership is firm on the five technical pillars of cooperation: power & energy efficiency, renewable energy, responsible oil & gas, sustainable growth, and emerging fuels and technologies.



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